Many new products meet an early demise because rigorous testing is overlooked during the research and development phase. Across industries, research and development is an important investment that not only comes with a hefty price tag, but many challenges and unpredictable outcomes as well.

Physical testing to ensure prototypes meet performance criteria can be burdensome, and in many cases the product’s size makes transportation between testing facilities or labs an impossible feat. Typically, only select pieces will be sent for study to help minimize the logistical difficulties and shipping cost.

Geometric, kinematic and dynamic similarity leads to the ability to transfer the testing results from a small scale model to the actual, physical life size product. The behaviour of smaller components in reynolds number scaled or corrected test case scenarios can accurately reflect the large scale fluid dynamic performance, and it is achieved at a fraction of the testing cost. In the case of external flows (aircraft, vehicles, etc), this allows wind tunnels to be used, and in the case of internal flows (oil & gas pipelines, vehicle engines, exhausts), this allows test labs and test benches to be used.

Being able to simulate these tests is the next big step, as the transferrable fluid dynamic behaviour could be broken down into easily understood equations and relationships due to regressions of experimental test data. Over the past few decades, use of computer modelling has increased and given rise to newer testing technologies like Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)– the use of iterative algorithms to analyse fluid flows. CFD allows for the solving of complex issues pertaining to fluid flow behaviour. The testing method comes with such versatility that enables it to be applied across different engineering disciplines, including aerospace, medical, automotive, industrial and energy sectors. When it comes to pipeline use, CFD has been used to verify part design and performance, diagnose meter station flow problems, and predict flow changes from equipment modifications. Beyond being a more affordable design testing option, product size hardly matters when it comes to CFD and there are no restrictions to design iterations, thus allowing R&D budgets to last much longer.

Industries that involve fluid flow like oil and gas rely on miles of pipeline above and beneath the ground and much goes into ensuring the structural integrity of these pipes, as well as their flow behavior. CFD simulation allows for comprehensive testing that covers everything from pressure to temperature, velocity, turbulence, flow profiles, and swirl. CFD even allows more complex behaviors to be studied, such as: pipe wall or component erosion due to particles such as sand, or multiphase flow with liquids in gas or water in oil. These simulations allow flow, component, and pipeline behavior to be studied before any material is ever built. This provides the opportunity for errors to be recognized and corrected long before they become extremely expensive or dangerous mistakes.

CFD simulation significantly reduces the time and money spent on research and development because it permits simultaneous testing and has a faster turnaround time of design results for data acquisition, even from the most complex flow scenarios, when compared to conventional design testing processes. The exponential growth of computing power in recent years has seen to the dramatic improvement of CFD modelling, including a reduction in simulation durations, and a significant improvement in measurement accuracy concerning flow pressure and velocity. And, because multiple designs can be assessed simultaneously, CFD simulation is aptly suited for testing that is complex and requires repetition across different designs or flow parameters.

Canada Pipeline Accessories (CPA) uses CFD to assist with studying the measurement behavior of components and pipelines to help assist customers and users with designing the most effective measurement stations and helping pinpoint flow disturbances to help eliminate measurement errors. CPA’s engineering team combines extensive experience in engineering, fluid dynamics, flow measurement, and finite element analysis with cutting-edge software to provide innovative solutions to any flow-related problem. Call us today and let’s discuss how we can be of service to you.